Facebook said on Sunday it would update its social media platforms in Germany within weeks to reduce the dissemination of fake news. “Last month we announced measures to tackle the challenge of fake news on Facebook,” the US technology company’s German-language newsroom said.
“We will put these updates in place in Germany in the coming weeks.” German Justice Minister Heiko Mass has repeatedly called on Facebook to respect laws against defamation in Germany that are stricter than those in the United States.
Other government officials have expressed concern that fake news and “hate speech” on the internet could influence a parliamentary election in September in which chancellor Angela Merkel will seek a fourth term in office.
“It’s important to us that the reports and news posted on Facebook are reliable,” a blog post on the Silicon Valley firm’s German website read.
German politicians have warned that populist parties and foreign nations could use fake news to try and influence parliamentary elections slated for September or October.
Facebook’s new German initiative targets “unambiguously wrong reports” being shared on the social media platform. The firm said it would offer a simpler reporting process for users to flag suspected fake news, display warnings next to statements identified as false by independent fact-checking organisations, and cut off advertising revenue to fake news sites presenting themselves as real news organisations.
The Facebook note said the company would make it easier to report items suspected to be fake news and work with external fact-checking organisations.
One of those, German-based Correctiv, has signed the US Poynter International Fact-Checking Code of Principles, it said. Facebook would require others it enlisted to do the same. Warning signs would be attached to reports identified as noncredible, and the reasons for the decision given.
Facebook would also make it impossible for spammers to forge the websites of reputable news agencies, it said. Germany has seen an increase in online hate speech following an influx of more than a million migrants.
With inputs from AFP, Reuters